For God’s Sake… Leave A Tip!


Christians, like other subcultures, can be lousy tippers.

This isn’t a surprise to anyone who has ever provided table service on a Sunday afternoon, but for some reason it’s usually a shock to churchgoers.

This week an American pastor made news for protesting the fact that he was charged a mandatory 18% gratuity (his party was larger than the mandatory gratuity of 8 people) and decided to leave a piece of his mind on the receipt:

“I Give God 10% Why do you get 18?”

Unfortunately the piece of his mind that he left on the receipt was smaller than the amount that he left at home when he headed out to the restaurant.

I’ve heard it explained that Christians leave lousy tips because they believe that 10% is a fair amount to give others because 10% is what Christians “tithe” to their local church.

I might be tempted to believe this if more than 5% of Christians actually gave 10% of their income to their local church.

Unfortunately the statistics demonstrate that as much as half of the people who attend church give no money to their church.  On top of this, the 50% who do give to their church give less than $100.

This demonstrates that Christians aren’t just bad tippers, but they also don’t feel obligated to pay for service, and this holds true inside of church as well as your local Denny’s.

Christians, like many other subcultures, struggle with generosity.

You might be wondering just how a server would know the religious orientation of a customer? It’s easier than you think: Christians usually finish their pre-meal prayer with the phrase “…in Jesus’ name, Amen”.

“In Jesus’ name…”  isn’t merely a spiritualized form of saying “Goodbye” to God,  it actually means that a Christian is doing something on the account (the credibility) of Jesus Christ.

When we pray at mealtime we aren’t just communicating with God on account of Jesus’ mercy, we are also representing God on account of Jesus.

“In Jesus’ name… “  doesn’t just indicate that we are drawing on Jesus credibility with God, it is also a demonstration of Jesus’ credibility in front of other people.

Christians, unlike other demographic groups, have been commanded by God to be generous.

While generosity touches on so much more than just money, it’s important to remember that Jesus told us that what our heart loves is demonstrated by what we invest in.

Spending our “treasure” on people is a very clear demonstration of generous heart.  Claiming to be generous while clinging to our money demonstrates exactly where our heart truly is.

As a pastor I have a lot of meetings in coffee shops and restaurants.  This means that I pray (In Jesus’ name) in front of a lot young men and women who work really hard.  In Jesus’ name, and for his sake, I have snuck back into restaurants to leave a larger tip after losing the friendly, farce-argument about “who gets to pay the bill”.

I don’t do this because I’m embarrassed by my table-mates’ math skills, or because I’m going to have to see that server again next week.

I do this for the sake of Jesus’ great name.

If we invoke Jesus’ name to draw on the power of our Heavenly Father, how much more should we behave in ways that cherish and bring honor to His great name when it’s time to foot the bill for 45 minutes of pleasure?

You may not think that a server deserves more than 10% of the tab.

You may not want to believe that you have the money to give more than 10%.

Just don’t bother asking God for anything in Jesus’ name before you eat then, because God can give you both the desire and resources to be generous if you would just ask him to.

And just in case you don’t want to…

Well I’m headed back into the restaurant, to “wash my hands.”

15 Responses to “For God’s Sake… Leave A Tip!”

  1. Jennifer Priest January 30, 2013 at 12:57 pm #

    Very well said! And way to go for all that “hand washing” :)

  2. Adam January 30, 2013 at 1:21 pm #

    I completely agree with the concept of generosity, but at the same time im actually against the concept of tipping that America has. Is it right that the company gets to pay their employees far less as they expect the tips to make up their ‘pay’? Or is it ok that a waitress who works a Saturday night can walk out the door with more earnings than a nurse who slogged it out for years at college? Tipping is as you say a gratuity, America has forgotten that and has put expectation in the place of gratitude.

    With that being said, what you say about Christians not living out life generously is a very valid point.

    • Jon January 30, 2013 at 4:06 pm #

      I hear you bro. I think we’re probably agreed on all points.

    • Ralph February 7, 2013 at 10:56 pm #


      • Ralph February 7, 2013 at 11:12 pm #

        Hate to break your bubble, but that is the way it is in the US, and has been for a very long time. It is not going to change. If a waiter / waitress give good service, I always tip 15 %, and they deserve it. It is just the way that their profession dictates their monetary compensation. It is a standard piece of the act of going out for dinner. If a person can’t afford to tip, maybe they should stay home and cook and serve themselves a meal. Everything comes at a price and tipping for a meal is part of the equation. If the service is lousy and/or they are rude or ignore our table for inordinate time periods, they get something less than 15% accordingly. Some of them bust their ***’s and work their tails off to try to do a good job. They need to support themselves, families, etc just like anyone else.

  3. Vicki Hansen January 30, 2013 at 2:10 pm #

    Brad and I were just telling the kids the other day how when he was in college and waiting tables at Coco’s, he would always offer take the “church people” on Sundays. He did this as a favor to his co-workers, who hated waiting on them and didn’t want to get stiffed, or receive the dreaded Christian “tract” in place of a tip.

    • Jon January 30, 2013 at 4:05 pm #

      Oh man… I miss Coco’s. It’s a bakery AND a restaurant! So glad that Brad is who he is. Miss you guys.

  4. D. January 30, 2013 at 3:08 pm #

    Thanks, Jon. Tipping is a great way to render honor to those to whom honor is due. My boys have all worked in food service and all would agree that Christians are some of the worst tippers out there. I had no idea. Now when I eat out I always tip 15 %…unless I pray before I eat, then it’s 20% or more if the service was great.

    • Jon January 30, 2013 at 4:03 pm #

      So good Donna. There’s something transformative about having served others, it shows in your sons.

  5. Kimberly Kyllo January 30, 2013 at 4:33 pm #

    I love this post so much! I am a server….AGAIN! It’s humbling to be my age and called ‘Mama Kyllo’ by my adorable co-workers…lol! That being said….I am so thankful for a job and the ability to support my family of 6 on some very prayed for tips! The Lord opened my eyes to the whole generosity deal a few years ago after watching a t.v. show about millionaires being put in poverty situations(some had come from poverty) for 1 week. It was interesting to see how each of the millionaires reacted to their living situations and very little money. I watched one woman use part of her allotted $150 for the week, buy cleaning supplies, Top Ramen and popcorn. She scoured the filthy apartment and wore the most beautiful smile and attitude the ENTIRE week! I found myself thinking..”well of course she’s happy and not worried where she’ll live when the week is over! She’s a multi-millionaire! Sheesh!” BOOM…that’s right about the time I heard the H.S. whisper, “You, darlin’, are the daughter of the King who knows NO bounds! Give, smile and live knowing…this vapor of a life is meant to be spent!” It’s so freeing to know that…I mean REALLY know that! We can never give more then we’ve been given! Tip it up folks!

  6. Jason January 31, 2013 at 8:24 am #

    Jon, saw this blog post through Darren Larson’s facebook repost. A few comments I want to add to the discussion.
    1. You are so right as it comes to generosity. Christians should be the most generous people around, and that applies to tithing, giving and tipping.
    2. To those who have a hard time with business paying less, our cultural practice of tipping, etc. realize that your opinion on that fact does not preclude you from being generous. Be a greek to a greek, a jew to a jew, and if you live in North America, the expectation of our culture is to tip at a restaurant.
    3. The bulk of servers do not make a lot of money. I have served for 10 years. I’ve worked at low end family restaurants and a high end restaurant that serves high dollar clientele. At neither place did any server make so much money that they wouldn’t want to get a normal job elsewhere. For each night a server makes “bank”, they can have many nights where they walk away with very little.
    4. For every server who does make a lot of money, or who works at establishments where the opportunity to do that is higher (big cities like NY, LA, etc)…there are a hundred or more others who are college students, single moms etc. who are trying to make ends meet.
    5. Lastly, let’s be serious. How costly is tipping? If you are paying $50.00 for a meal, in today’s world, you’re wealthy. That aside, if you’ve committed to paying the $50, are you going to argue that the difference between no tip or a 15% tip will break your bank? $7.50 will kill your finances? A $10 tip will put you in the poor house?
    6. If you are going to try to witness, leave a bible, leave a tract, the cost of the bible and tract mean nothing. Imagine Jesus, caring only for a hungry person’s soul, gives them less bread because of the cost of the “Gospel by Moses” tract he’s also giving. That’s ludicrous, and it should be for us. For someone whose hungry, the tract only means something when their appetite is satieted.
    7. Lastly, if you really think that servers make tons of money, then everyone would be doing it. Fact is, most restaurants that we all frequent have over 150% turnover every year. If you feel hard done by leaving a tip that is in concert with the generosity of your Lord, ask for a job. God will use that experience to change your heart. I know of no Christian who has ever served in a restaurant who has ever expressed the ideas and opinions that this so called pastor wrote on the check.

    • Jon January 31, 2013 at 2:41 pm #

      Great points all around; Loved your thoughts here.

  7. Naoma January 31, 2013 at 9:08 am #

    For our family, tipping generously, even when our own income has been decreased has been the expected “norm”. We always tip 20% and when we eat out on Christmas Eve, which is a family tradition, our server gets 25% of the tab for their service to us on an evening when they can’t be enjoying that time with their own family. This is such a small way that we can reflect the generosity that God gives to us every day in our lives; it would never occur to us not to pass it on to others.

    • Jon January 31, 2013 at 2:44 pm #

      Great idea on the Christmas tip! I’m totally stealing this!

  8. Sadie Reiter January 31, 2013 at 10:40 pm #

    I am thinking right now that one should raise up a child in the way he should go. Many times your children are watching. The importance of being a good example is illustrated in an old story from one of the Chicken Soup for the Soul books. It is a little boy around 8 who goes into the ice cream shop by himself for the first time. The waitress is tired and close the the end of her shift. The boy looks over the menu and was hoping for a double scoop bowl of ice cream. The waitress was a little impatient with him thinking that he was taking too long to make up his mind and she probably wouldn’t get a tip out of him at all. He calculated what he could afford politely asked for a single scoop since the double scoop was 50 cents. When he was done enjoying his ice cream he left the waitress a quarter, two dimes and a nickle for his 35 cent dish of ice cream. This made the waitress sorry for the way she had been a little short with him. He had exactly enough for what he wanted to buy, but what do you want to bet that his mom or dad had always left a 15 cent tip when they had come in with their son for ice cream.

    Now the prices are up by at least a factor of 5 since the story so you do the math. God blesses us so that we can bless others. Life is best lived generously. If you don’t have the money to tip, pick up a frozen pizza and fix it yourself. It shows you have character.

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